"Live the Dream" - Tofo, Mozambique
Trip Start Sep 14, 2005
28Trip End May 2006
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Tofo, where we spent most of our week, can only be understood in pictures, and even most of those can't do it justice
But what we loved about Tofo, is that it's more than just a beach. I mean don't get me wrong, that's precisely WHY the tourists/travelers go there, but beyond the beach life is a lazy and beautiful town centered around a tiny but vibrant market. The town is an interesting mix of burnt out surfer hippies (most of them have dyed blond hair and wear their kakis ridiculously low), South African tourists and businessmen/women (running the few cafes, surf shops, and internet café - yes Tofo is 'online'!), fruit and shell jewelry vendors, fishermen (and they are all men, or boys mostly), and backpackers. It's hard to tell how many people actually live in Tofo, as the crowd (both local vendors and travelers) is a transient one, either commuting to Tofo for business or visiting for a few days/months/years... A number of foreigners we met had planned to stay only a week in Tofo and had instead stayed for a number of months - a couple had even found jobs there to extend their vacation in paradise.
Mike and I filled our days with walks (both inland and on the beach), eating all the calamari we could manage, frolicking in the ocean (ok I frolicked, Mike swam), and snorkeling with whale sharks (some 9 metres long!) and dolphins. Don't worry mom and dad, the sharks only eat plankton. It was unbelievable to swim only a few feet from such a magnificent and enormous animal, but equally cool was riding in the (excuse the Coast Guard lingo) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat through the waves...
Mike and I spent our evenings (which often turned into late nights) partying with other backpackers in the restaurants, and in our own grass hut on the beach, dancing to Scissor Sisters and drinking Gin and Tonics. Some nights we'd wander down the road to one of the two bars in town, Dino's, for some Manica beer and hilarious people watching.
But of our 10 or so days in Tofo I have to say that the highlight was hanging out with the "beach boys" (as I call them), or local 4-14yr old vendors who roam the beach selling shell bracelets, necklaces, and belts, straw hats and baskets, cashew nuts and coconuts.
They are all boys, as the girls are in school in the afternoon (when tourists hit the beach), and they travel in posses of 3 to 10 approaching anyone who might have loose change with phrases like:
-"Buy one bracelet. Yesterday you promised" (even if you've never seem them before in your life)
-"I give you good price. I need money for school." (even if they are far too young for school)
-"Swap bracelet for your watch. Swap for shorts? Swap for shirt?"
At first the boys come across desperate and needy
In one posse, Mandela leads the pack. He struts around like he owns the beach and quite happily posed for multiple pictures with my sunglasses on. He's also a joker - told me he was 40 yrs old, when he's quick obviously younger than 14, and he nonchalantly said I could be his 'babe' (aka, girldfriend) ... I dunno, what do you think, Mark? =)
One of the few 'loner' venders of the beach is Stephen, an older teen with ambition and heart. His quiet and gentle manner is unique to the 'beach boy' crowd, but he's a sharp business man (got me to buy a hat, two bags, and a fan...) who's both fair and generous. He wants to be a civil engineer when he grows up, but teaching would be his second choice though it doesn't pay as well. Stephen lives in Maxixe ('Masheesh') and comes every afternoon to Tofo (by boat and then bus) toting his armload of baskets for the tourists
Mike and I spent a few afternoons just lying on the beach surrounded by the 'beach boys'. They were happy to chat, but preferred it if we took their pictures, bought bracelets, or gave them "sweeties". Our last morning on the beach, we taught five of the kids to play ultimate frisbee and played for a couple hours.... They were really good by the end!
On our way back to Jo'burg we spent one night in Maputo (to split up the 16 hour ride). The short 'chapa' (mini van) ride from Tofo to Inhambane was unimaginably packed - with guys hanging out the open door and two bums to a seat. I was lucky enough to have an adorable baby passed in through the window to my lap for the ride.
For our night in Maputo we dined at the local fish market. You quite literally are able to pick out your fresh squid/barracuda/crab/clams etc. from the rows of market stalls. You then take your plastic bag of seafood to one of the 5-6 restaurants behind the stalls, which will fry up your dinner for a buck or two. It was a fabulous way to enjoy our last night of Mozambican seafood!
Today we are in Jo'burg and tomorrow afternoon we fly to Livingston, Zambia to visit Victoria Falls and raft in the Zambezi river. Mike thinks I would like bungee jumping too, but I'll have to think about that one!
After a week at the Falls, we'll bus to Windhoek, Namibia (to see some wildlife and spectacular sand dunes) before making our way south to Cape Town.
Sorry to make this a long entry. Hope you skimmed when you had to! I understand!!! If you're reading only this last paragraph, just know that Mike and I are seeing the best Southern Africa has to offer and loving every minute of it. I can speak only for myself, but Mike's a terrific travel buddy. The combination of his previous knowledge of Southern Africa, my incessant list-making, and our obsessions with sunscreen, saving money, and Scissor Sisters ... make for a very complimentary travel duo. Of course I miss my original travel buddy Mark, but to be honest Mark, I doubt you'd still be dating me if you could smell my clothes from the past week! I promise to cut off my dread locks and put on deodorant before I see you in January =)
p.s. the "Living the Dream" motto is from one of the Tofo backpacker hostels, Bamboozie. Mike and I promptly adopted it as our trip motto!
p.p.s. Mike and I had our hit of the Canadian winter today... we went ice skating in a nearby mall!!! I swear to god. It was awesome. I wish we'd had our Leafs jerseys on as we skated circles around the little kiddies. Hope the REAL Canadian winter hasn't started too early.
Stay well. Love Pam xoxo